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Both Thomas Hardy's poem, "The Man He Killed" and Randall Jarrell's "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" focus on the theme of the futility and senselessness, and waste of war. In Hardy's poem, for example, the speaker states that he shot the man "because---because," as though searching for a reason, he
was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
That's clear enough;....
However, just like the speaker, the man enlisted because he was out of work and had no other reason. Likewise, in Jerrell's poem, there is no real reason for the turret gunner's being in the war other than his coming from his "mother's sleep" and "falling into the State." And, he "hunched in its belly" until he is ready to fire the gun. His death, too, is senseless; and, he must be "washed out of the turret with a hose."
Hardy makes use of ambiguous pronouns so that the reader does not know whether the narrator who relays the story of the two men, or the first or second man are speaking. This ironic confusion of the three points of view illustrates the senseless killing of one when all the men are essentially the same. In Jarrell's short poem there is also an ambiguity; it is in the manhood of the soldier who remains in a fetal position and is destroyed beyond recognition:
When I died, they washed me out of the turret with a hose.
As in the "Man He Killed," the theme of unrecognition is prevalent.
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